24 days until Seattle!
I really hope I’ll see some rain there. I, like many tea lovers, cat people, bibliophiles, fans of comfy clothing, hermits, and moody Capricorns, love a nice rainy day. And on my one previous trip to the Pacific Northwest I was plagued by sunny days — three in a row. I figure that one cannot be a connoisseur of rain if one has never experienced some Washington and Oregon rain.
Which brings me to April. The Rainy Month. And How I Taught Myself to Paint Rain.
At first, I had no idea how to do it. So I spent some time looking through art books in the library, observing how many different artists depicted rain. Everyone does it differently, and in order for me to figure out which rain-style was most suitable for my skill level and my personality, I tried a couple different rains — in a rain sampler (above).
On little tiny chips of watercolor paper I did small experiments, copying the many different ways that other artists have done rain. Just to get my feet wet. ha ha.
And then, after I felt some what comfy with myself as a rain-painter, I simply looked at my own window on a rainy day and painted what I saw:
This rain sketch (it’s in my book, same as that rain sampler) is twice the size of the sampler bits. It is a very intricate way to paint rain: drop by drop.
And then it got windy, and the rain looked like this:
Again, it’s a bit elaborate, painting rain drop by drop.
The most wonderful painting of rain I ever saw was 36 years ago, in the National Gallery in London:
This is a painting by the primitive French artist, Henri Rousseau. Totally self-taught, and working as a customs agent by day, Rousseau was thoroughly original — not having had the benefit of an arts education, he was never taught how things should look; he just observed the world, and painted what he saw.
Now, he didn’t actually see this tiger in this jungle — but he’d seen rain often enough. And he did something here, on this canvas, that astonished me when I stood in front of it (it’s a very big painting) and the light raked over the surface of it. You see, what Rousseau did here was to coat the oil paint with a thin colorless veneer, in long slashing strokes. So that, when the light catches on it, the surface flashes with the actual texture of rain. (You can almost see the effect in this photo, down on the bottom edge of the picture. But in person, the effect is dazzling!
And now I can’t stop collecting images of rain (because I still need to find ‘my” way of doing rain and that’s a trial and error thing…I’m not a genius, you know).
Two weeks ago, in Paris Match, I came across this:
If I ever need to do black and white rain, I’m going to do it this way.
In the April 18 issue of the New Yorker, there was this wonderful illustration by Zohar Lazar:
(It was for a Jonathan Franzen article about birdwatching on some desert island off the coast of Peru.)
This goes in the Rain File for future reference.
And that’s how you teach yourself to paint rain.
I’m still knee-deep in copy edits for my Damn France Book. The copy editor hates me, but really hates the way I use “towards” instead of “toward” and she struck out “Jeeze” and told me I had to write it “Jeez”, and in her opinion, “back yard” is one word, and so is “way station”. But she caught two mis-spellings of “Bayeux” , which would have mortified me if I’d let a book of mine go out in the world with “Bayeaux”.
But still, I’d rather be edited by a Klingon.
Thank you all for your words of support. I hope the Damn France Book is worthy of all your goodwill. So the next time I clean up my use of wayward quote marks and haphazard use of the semi-colon, it will be for you.
Unfair criticism: is it better to give, or recieve? Stories, anyone?